The President’s Reserve Fund will be used to ensure there is sufficient electricity supply in Yangon in the coming summer, Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein said.
He announced this after a meeting among some Union ministers and entrepreneurs at the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) office on April 10.
The chief minister said the money would come from the fund as Yangon made arrangements to upgrade its electricity sector to ensure development and businesses would not be disrupted.
He said the state had been losing money generating and distributing electricity, stressing the need for Myanmar to look into cheaper methods of generating power.
He said power from gas could be costly while coal was the cheaper option, but he also noted the environmental concerns related to generating power using coal.
“High-tech coal power generation has been conducted in other countries including Japan, and Myanmar has been left behind. Therefore, Myanmar also needs to consider cheap electricity generation,” said U Phyo Min Thein.
Regional ministers from Yangon have been preparing tender documents to buy 25 MW diesel/gasoline power generators which can channel power to townships, following their consultation with the Ministry of Electricity and Energy.
The government has also been talking to the private sector since last year to find a way to generate power at a fair price while causing minimal impact to the environment.
Generating power from waste has also been explored but these methods pose some difficulties.
“If electricity is not bought at a fair price, it cannot feed into the national grid. So, electricity generation from garbage is facing difficulties. The garbage is piling up in Yangon,” U Phyo Min Thein said.
He said the Htein Pin and Dawei Gyaung projects to generate power from waste must be implemented without failure next year.
Electricity consumption in Yangon is at 1350 MW now. It is estimated that the consumption will increase by another 500 MW next year. For the next five years, Yangon will need to meet the electricity demand of 3000 MW in order to ensure development.
Union Minister for Planning and Finance, U Kyaw Win, said the electricity sector had been deregulated for the first time for the private sector.
He said relaxation of regulations would continue in power generation, installation and distribution.
“If any delay occurs for entrepreneurs doing business in the electricity sector, they can report to my ministry or talk to the Myanmar Investment Commission. We will negotiate with the other ministries.
“We shouldn’t sit in the dark anymore. Due to unnecessary laws and regulations, our people and entrepreneurs have had to grope in the dark as they dealt with frequent blackouts,” U Kyaw Win said.
He also lamented the condition of old electricity towers in the country that would take 20 years to repair if the government did not let the private sector in.
“The towers’ efficiency has been declining and some can’t run due to their age. If the private sector is allowed to invest, we won’t need to wait for the government to approve the budget to repair or get new ones.
“Why don’t we allow the private sector to invest? Why can’t we cooperate with the private sector?
“Reasons must be given. If we continue like this, it will take 20 years to repair the towers. We will negotiate with the respective ministry for private sector involvement,” U Kyaw Win said.
– Translation by Zaw Nyunt